Acapella High Violon

JVS

Wammer
Wammer
Aug 28, 2009
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Ilford, Essex
AKA
Jim
Had these for a few weeks now, so thought I’d jot down some thoughts.



Description.

They are big speakers, at 1.55m high, they are maybe 100mm taller than the Marvels but with a smaller footprint. Quite imposing when you’re sitting in front of them!

They are finished in high black gloss acrylic sheeting, about 3mm thick, which is bevelled on every edge/corner. This is much better than a painted finish (like my Wilsons) because scratches can easily be polished out and are less likely to be noticeable in the first instance. The build quality and attention to detail is first class – I just cannot fault them at all. This “High” version of the Violon weighs 95 kilos. They stand on the optional bases, which have retractable screw down spikes.

The bass cabinet is a sealed enclosure and has a forward facing 10” driver together with a further internal (also 10” I think) bass driver, isobaric style, there’s also substantially increased internal bracing - Acapella call it “suboctav” (the standard Violon only has the forward facing driver and although identical externally, consequently weighs a lot less, at 65k)



The mid horn is made of some sort of plastic/acrylic material, 470mm in diameter, double skinned and appears to be driven by a domed mid driver. The horn sounds quite “dead” when you tap it. It has a paint finish in midnight blue/black (depending on the light). Interestingly, the designer chose to have the rectangular cabinet housing the mid horn mounted in a diamond configuration atop the main cabinet. It needs to be removed for transportation and it bolts into a large “v” shaped groove in the top of the main cab. Once in position, it reveals long slots either side of the base of the diamond – more about these later!

The plasma ion tweeter is mounted in its own metal enclosure which slides into an opening at the top/rear of the main cab. The horn is solid polished brass. The brass is very heavy and appears to have a lot of mass. The electroncs inside the tweeter enclosure are mains powered and tube based.





On the tweeter unit’s rear panel are the mains and speaker connections, a volume control and a switch allowing either continuous or auto signal sensing operation. I have it in the auto position; it switches them off after 10 or so minutes with no signal. When a signal is detected the plasma “flame” is ignited and the “light” at the base of the tweeter becomes visible. Initially, the flames flare brighter/dimmer two or three times, accompanied with some audible popping, but this disappears after about 5 seconds and they settle down to a constant pink/blue light.

Sound Quality

The first and most striking aspect of the way the Acapellas sound is their absolute neutrality. Forget everything you’ve heard about nasal or honking horns – these play it straight down the line. Voices have no colouration whatsoever and consequently sound very realistic. They retain that dynamic yet beguiling midband all good horns possess - that's what attracted me to horns!

The next thing is the treble - unbelievably extended and dynamic yet ultra sweet and grain free. This unit is very special indeed. It gives the top end a beautiful sheen which completely captures your attention. Detail is simply phenomenal – every nuance is revealed, they are totally etched but satin smooth. I cannot heap enough superlatives on these tweeters. They do get bloody hot though – hence the cooling slots either side of the mid horn. :oops:

The tweeter is also the reason for the pin-point imaging, best I've heard from any speaker. It's uncanny, instruments are rock solidly placed from side to side and front to back. It means listening in a very sweet spot, but It's usually only me listening to it anyway. :cool:

The bass is also excellent, it goes deep and has great detail and articulation and good slam (with the right amp). It keeps up with the midrange horn very well too, much better than most hybrids. I don’t appear to have any room effects – no overhang or boom at all (I consider myself very lucky because I had no home dem!) they are pushed back quite close to the walls either side of the bay so I think it must be due to the lack of any (rear) port.

These are truly wonderful sounding loudspeakers, despite my recent history :? , these definitely are keepers :)

What’s next?

Things are a bit interesting on the power amp front. I started with the SIT which sounds really, really nice in the mid and top but with only 8wpc, cannot drive the bass too well – a bit woolly tbh. It soon became obvious that the Acapellas need some driving!

My class “T” ES Labs (180wpc) power amp sounded pretty dammed good, driving the bass well and quite well balanced with the rest of the frequency range.

The Accuphase is a very grippy amp with deep slammy bass. Immediately reminded me of my big Rowlands! A bit clinical at the top though and soul/musicality is in short supply.

Dave’s Coincident Dragons with the Elrog tubes also sounded very nice, reasonably grippy and with a lovely open midrange, very slightly toppy maybe, could that be the 211 sound?

The next thing to try is two of the ES Labs switching amps bridged to give 500wpc……..but, Pete came round yesterday evening for a listen and he reckons the Acapellas could be bi or tri amped because of the way the connections/crossovers are configured. So he’s very kindly offered to make a balanced attenuator for me to use on the bass amp. The mid/top would, of course, be driven by the SIT.

Watch this space! :D

 
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Awesome, can't wait to hear these bad boys. Always admired the odd shapes and colours they used in their speaker design.

 

pgarrish

Wammer
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Feb 13, 2011
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Paul
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
I reckon the mixed Amp approach is the way forward Jim - that SIT is great, shame not to use it. The speakers were bloody impressive to my eyes and ears last week.

 

SCIDB

Wammer
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Aug 1, 2005
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, ,
Hi,

These are great speakers. I can see (& hear) why Steve loves them. I came across these at Whittlebury a few years a ago. They were used with some Einstein amps.



They sounded promising then.

SCIDB

 

AmDismal

Wammer
Wammer
Apr 22, 2007
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I heard them at Whittlebury too, and last night. I think they might be the same pair, although they may have had some upgrades to latest spec since Whittlebury.

They are quite delicious, really - obviously the tweeter is the money shot, and it is possibly the best I have heard in that respect, but they also have the immediacy of real horns with no honky colorations, and (when driven by the Accuphase) had the taut bass that Jim clearly enjoys. The bass is interesting, in that I prefer more 'ease', as is obtained with my front-loaded horn bass, whereas Jim clearly missed that aspect of his Wilsons, and I understand that entirely. Which means these could indeed be his perfect speakers. :^

It does cause some issues though - the bass is passive and the tweeter active; the passive bass makes them quite tricky to drive, so the Accuphase was much better than the VFET in that respect, but the VFET was comfortably sweeter through the mids and higher. Unlike most horns, they clearly need a beefy amplifier. They don't lend themselves to bi-amping, as there is only one set of terminals, but you can just access the three leads off that. With crocodile clips...

 

Tel

Wammer
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Aug 13, 2006
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Hove Actually
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Kevin
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
I enjoyed these immensely and they are quality speakers, possibly the best professionally manufactured speakers I have ever heard in a domestic setting.

I wasn't such a fan of the Accuphase amp and preferred the valve monoblocks, but I guess it depends what sort of compromises Jim is prepared to accept. My view is that in going for the bass he used to have with the Wilsons he will sacrifice the best part of these speakers.

I found that when I first got the Aventgardes in my room I set them up to sound like LVs and it took a while to realise that the sound I was used to wasn't necessarily the best way to listen to Ags. So it may be with the Apacellas, they are not Wilsons and do not do bass like them but the mids and HF are glorious and should not be compromised.

So either find a way of bi-amping that intergrates a SS amped bass unit and a valve (or SIT) mid and top without permanently modifying the speakers and giving good cross over integration or live with a slightly recessed bass and glory in the things that the speakers excel at.

But please don't try and make them sound like Wilsons!

 

JVS

Wammer
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Aug 28, 2009
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Ilford, Essex
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Jim
I reckon the mixed Amp approach is the way forward Jim - that SIT is great, shame not to use it. The speakers were bloody impressive to my eyes and ears last week.
That would be the best outcome Paul, I really like the SIT sound, but I'm not counting my chickens yet......... :upgrade:

Jim clearly missed that aspect of his Wilsons, and I understand that entirely. Which means these could indeed be his perfect speakers.
But please don't try and make them sound like Wilsons!
I definitely don't want that sound again and although I agree the Accuphase does make the Acapellas vere in that direction, I don't think it could ever sound as pneumatic as before because they don't react with the room boundaries like the Wilsons did. :^ I think you're both forgetting just how bassy in this room the Wilsons were! :p

 

Purite Audio

Wammer
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Jan 29, 2007
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Keith
Jim Hi, what is the service period for the plasmas, I presume they have to go back to Acapella or do they have a service agent in the UK?

Keith.

 

JVS

Wammer
Wammer
Aug 28, 2009
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Ilford, Essex
AKA
Jim
Jim Hi, what is the service period for the plasmas, I presume they have to go back to Acapella or do they have a service agent in the UK?Keith.
It's a DIY kit apparently Keith. :^

 

i_should_coco

Wammer
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Sep 21, 2006
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These are rather lovely. I still question the padding down of the mid to match the bass unit - you're throwing away the main advantage of horns, i.e. sensitivity, and still having to deal with the potential disadvantages - but the results speak for themselves. They work very, very well and definitely preserve the immediacy that horns give you. The treble is incredibly sweet and detailed, and the bass works very well in Jim's room. Many other speakers have boomed in there, but if anything these are slightly the other way and overall a very good match in terms of LF alignment.

Listening to the Accuphase, while I quite liked the bass, I did find the treble a touch hard sounding. My Sony VFET (SIT) was nicer at HF, but was rather lean in the bass. Oh to have the best of both! Having had a look round the back, connections to the individual units are available, so a bi-amping solution could work really well. I think some experiment is in order. There may even be clip leads. :D

 

AmDismal

Wammer
Wammer
Apr 22, 2007
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Do we actually know the sensitivity of the mids though? It's not a compression driver, so it may be mid-90s even with the horn, so not that padded.

 

i_should_coco

Wammer
Wammer
Sep 21, 2006
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Looks the same as on on the ones higher up in the range which have a mic higher rated sensitivity overall.

 

JVS

Wammer
Wammer
Aug 28, 2009
4,130
121
0
Ilford, Essex
AKA
Jim
So bi-amping, with the SIT driving the mid/top and another amp for the bass (with an attenuator) should work then? :?

 

JVS

Wammer
Wammer
Aug 28, 2009
4,130
121
0
Ilford, Essex
AKA
Jim
I'm deffo up for it :^

I tried the two class t amps bridged today - it sounded really wierd, almost of of phase. :shock:

 

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